June 16, 2024
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Slovenia: Opposition requires a referendum on NPP Krsko expansion

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Slovenia’s opposition Democratic Party has submitted a proposal for a referendum on the project for the construction of a second reactor at the Krsko nuclear power plant amid opposition from neighbouring Austria and environmentalist groups.

A referendum on building NPP Krsko 2, including small modular reactors, should be promptly organised, taking into account public opinions. This project involves the entire country, not just one company, SDS said in a statement.

According to SDS’ proposal, the referendum question would read: “Are you in favour of Slovenia ensuring a stable and affordable supply of electricity through the use of nuclear energy by building the second block of the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant and smaller modular nuclear reactors?”

In July 2021, the infrastructure ministry issued an energy permit for the construction of a second reactor unit at Krsko but the decision immediately drew fire from Austria, whose constitution bans the use of nuclear fission in its energy supply. Austria’s environment minister Leonore Gewessler said back then that the country had major concerns about the project and asked for an assessment of the earthquake risk at the site by international experts.

According to Slovenian media reports, the ruling Freedom Movement supports the idea of holding a referendum on the issue by the end of the government’s mandate in 2026.

In October, Slovenia’s prime minister Robert Golob said the government is considering holding a national vote on the reactor project. People must be allowed to decide on a second reactor once experts come up with technical solutions and all necessary permits are obtained, Golob said back then.

The Krsko nuclear plant is located near the border with Croatia and around 100 kilometres from Austria. It operates a Westinghouse pressurised light water reactor of 2,000 MW thermal power capacity. The operating company Nuklearna elektrarna Krsko (NEK) is co-owned by Gen-Energija and Croatian power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP).

In January 2023, Slovenia’s environment ministry granted a permit to extend the lifespan of the Krsko plant until 2043, a decision that faced opposition from activist groups, including Greenpeace, who advocated for dismantling, due to concerns about the plant’s age and earthquake risks.

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